Teens and Distraction: Part 2- Electronics and Passengers

In Part 1 of our “Teens and Distraction” blog, we discussed how gender played a role in some of the distractions observed. In part 2, we’ll focus on other teen distractions found, such as use of electronics, driving with passengers and horseplay.

Electronic Devices

Using electronic devices accounted for nearly one third of all the incidences of distracted driving observed in the study. Other frequent distractions included adjusting vehicle controls, personal grooming, and eating or drinking.

Researchers spotted or suspected the teens of using electronic devices in 7% of the video clips where the vehicles registered a g-force event, such as sudden braking or swerving. Teens were twice as likely to text or type on their electronic devices than they were to make handheld calls. Recent reports suggest teens send between 3,000 to 4,000 texts per month, so it's not surprising to see this behavior taking place, but it underscores how critical it is for teens to put down their devices and pay attention to driving.

Drivers in the study using electronic devices look away from the road more frequently and longer than drivers engaging in other distracting behaviors. On average, they looked away a full second longer – long enough to travel the length of a basketball court!

Passengers, Loud Conversations & Horseplay

Driving with passengers was also found to influence driver behavior. Distracting teen activities significantly decreased when parents or other adults were present in the car. In contrast, loud conversation and horseplay were more than twice as likely to occur when multiple teens – instead of just one – were present. These distractions are particularly concerning, as they are associated with the occurrence of crashes, other serious incidents (such as leaving the roadway), and high g-force events. Drivers were six times more likely to have a serious incident when there was loud conversation in the vehicle, and were more than twice as likely to have a high g-force event when there was horseplay.

More information from this study, including a press release and fact sheet can be found here.